Designed for high school students seeking a life-changing adventure, this course combines beautiful environments and challenging activities with an intensive curriculum emphasizing leadership, character development and an ethic of service. Paddle on glacier-fed Lake Ross, surrounded by jagged ridge-tops and soaring mountains. For the backpacking section, travel on foot through some of the most famous alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States, pausing to take in high mountain vistas and remote meadows peppered with wildflowers. Besides learning technical skills in canoeing and alpine backpacking, practice methods of communication, conflict resolution and decision-making. Face and overcome challenges, work with the other members of your crew, and learn who you are and what you are capable of.
This course is closed for the season. 2018 courses coming soon.
No two Outward Bound expeditions are ever quite the same. Every crew is unique; every route is distinct; and every adventure is dynamic. But one thing remains the same. On each course, students rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places – and find strength and determination along the way.
At the start of the course, students backpack down to the shores of Ross Lake, where they pick up canoes and begin the first leg of the expedition. Accessible only by boat or trail, this glacier-fed lake borders the dramatic Picket Mountain Range. Ross Lake is 25 miles long, and extends all the way into Canada. It is nestled in the North Cascades National Park and the Pasayten Wilderness Area. Nearby Jack and Hozomeen Mountains rise 9,066 and 8,066 feet respectively, soaring up out of the lake and crowning it with jagged ridge-tops. This part of the park is commonly known as the "Alps of America" for the sheer cliff faces and deep glacially carved valleys characteristic of the European alpine environment. Students learn basic paddle strokes, canoe rescue skills, and other fundamental aspects of expeditionary travel such as navigation, campcraft and how to live and work as part of a team.
During the alpine backpacking section of the course, students work together to explore the high mountain landscape of the North Cascades. Students trade canoes for backpacks and head into the high country that surrounds Ross Lake. Students learn the essentials of backcountry mountain travel necessary to carry them into remote meadows and high mountain vistas, including navigation with map and compass, Leave No Trace campcraft, and backcountry cooking. Depending on the group and the conditions, the crew may attempt to summit one of the many rugged alpine peaks in the course area. Peak attempts often require pre-dawn starts and a high degree of personal and group tenacity.
Solo is an important part of the Outward Bound experience and allows students time to rest, recharge and reflect on their own development towards the end of the course. Solos may vary from a few hours up to three days depending on the length of the course, age and maturity of the students and itinerary of the expedition. During Solo, students set up their own independent campsite near their instructors and spend their time resting, writing in their journal, enjoying the quiet of the wilderness and reflecting on their experience. Instructors will check on the students throughout their Solo. For many students, Solo is both a challenge and a respite and is often a highlight of their course.
Acquire a taste for adventure. Courses two weeks in length provide a perfect introduction to the Outward Bound experience, reminding students of their connection to nature and leaving them feeling inspired to take on real challenge. Through these condensed experiences, students become more comfortable living and working together in the wilderness while practicing the values of Outward Bound. These learnings transfer easily back home, where students can build upon them and continue to grow and develop after course.
Ross Lake, Washington
This area was made famous by the Beat Generation writer, Jack Kerouac whose writings were inspired by his work as a fire spotter at the Desolation Peak Lookout, on the east side of Ross Lake. Throughout their days on the lake, students may encounter any one of hundreds of natural wonders, including waterfalls flowing into the lake from the glaciers above, eagles soaring overhead in search of trout and miraculously clear blue waters.
The North Cascades, Washington
The North Cascades are called the “American Alps” for their rugged beauty and glaciated peaks. They remain some of the wildest and most untrammeled wilderness in the United States. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers in the “Lower 48” and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wild flowers. This course area hosts some of the most famous alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Backpacking programs operate in the Pasayten Wilderness, Sawtooth Wildernss, and North Cascades National Park on the east side of the North Cascades and receive significantly less rainfall than the western coast of Washington.
Mazama Basecamp, Mazama, Washington
This facility is the office and support site for all wilderness courses conducted in Washington. The rustic property is located in the Methow Valley and has on-site access to great rock climbing and backpacking.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.